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Roberts never gained velocity either; in fact, he lost it because of arm trouble. "I would have known I was cheating," Roberts says, imagining how he'd have felt if he had taken steroids. "I would have felt guilty the entire time. These guys were my friends. I couldn't look them in the eye knowing I was cheating."
In 1996 the Twins invited Roberts and Naulty to the club's major league spring training camp in Fort Myers. Naulty, after his fourth off-season doping regimen, again reported with increased size and velocity. He made the team. Roberts was sent back to Triple A Salt Lake City. Three months later, Roberts was sitting in a hotel room in Vancouver with his roommate when the phone rang. It was Jim Rantz, head of minor league operations for the Twins. Minnesota needed a pitcher because of an injury.
"Hey, Brett. Gosh, I see your numbers are really good," Rantz said.
Roberts's heart began to leap.
"Keep it up," Rantz said. "Hey, is Danny there?"
His heart sank. He handed the phone to his roommate: Serafini. Rantz told Serafini that he needed to get on a plane right away: He was pitching against the Yankees in a few days.
Says Roberts, "I was crushed. I was like, 'I don't know what else I could do.' That was one of the lowest points of my career, other than getting released."
Serafini was a lefthanded pitcher who, Roberts says, used to joke about steroids. The Twins selected Serafini out of Junipero Serra High in San Mateo, Calif., with their first round pick in 1992—the same year they drafted Naulty, Linebarger and Legault. He stood 6'1'' and weighed only 160 pounds. He went 15--16 with a 6.04 ERA for six major league teams. In 2007, just after MLB and the union tightened its penalties for steroid use, Serafini became one of the first players banned for 50 games for flunking a PED test. (Serafini says he was given steroids by a doctor to recover from an Achilles injury, and that it was the only time he used steroids.)
After going 9--7 with a 5.40 ERA in '96, Roberts returned to Salt Lake City the following year. By July his ERA had ballooned to 6.90, but he had just thrown the ball well in an outing against Edmonton. His dad had been in the stands for the game, and the ball came out of his hand with ease. His velocity was picking up. And then one day the manager, Phil Roof, called him at his apartment.
Roberts knew something was up. He figured he was getting traded. Roof came to the apartment and sat down.